Meditation is the process of focusing your attention on a particular thought or present experience while clearing your mind of its normal ruminations. There are any number of variations that can accomplish this goal. We encourage readers to try the different meditation techniques listed below to find ones that will best help you stay focused and get the most out of your meditation sessions.
Shower meditation & relaxation
Try this technique to add meditation to your shower ritual. Close your eyes and turn your attention to the droplets of water as they flow over your head. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, holding each breath for a few seconds. Focus on the streams of water and how they run down your body. Imagine a waterfall that is releasing tension as you exhale.
Meditating with raisins
In this meditation exercise you bring your mind to focus on a raisin (or two, or three), and pay attention to its unique qualities. How does it differ from its neighbors? How is it unique? Look at the particular folds and creases, its lines and wrinkles, and imagine its journey from a small seed to its present state. Raisins make a great focal point for meditation because each one is unique and different. But you can also utilize other fruits and vegetables for this activity; anything that has a unique character that can engage your focus.
Candle meditation provides a quick and easy yet powerful focal point upon which to direct our attention, and so it’s a good technique for those who are just learning to relax & meditate. Find a comfortable spot, and place a lit candle on a stable platform about 2 feet in front of you. Ideally, the flame should be a little bit below eye level, directly in the gaze of wherever your eyes would normally focus when assuming the proper meditation posture.
Then bring your attention to that flame. Notice how it flickers and changes colors, or is moved by the slightest breeze. Imagine it as a force that is transforming the atoms and molecules of the air that surrounds it. Fire is a very primal thing that we’re all drawn to, and so the flickering of a candle’s flame can provide a transfixing image that both calms us and holds our focus.
While it may not be as convenient as a candle, using a campfire or fireplace flame for meditation is another technique that can be even more enthralling. Get a small campfire going and let it burn for a little while. Then sit down in a comfortable spot at a comfortable distance. Once again, bring your focus to the flames. Notice how the coals glow, twinkle and change colors like blinking lights. Bring your attention to the sensation of the heat as it warms your skin, or the way the flames dance around the logs.
Staring at a fire like this is so captivating that you may have found yourself zoning out in the past when gazing at a controlled fire, an episode of inadvertent meditation. So it’s another powerful technique we recommend all people try, and is especially useful for beginners.
This is another easy technique that can help novices keep their focus, and it also provides a fun twist for more experienced meditators. First, find an appealing picture that might relax you. Nature images and outdoor scenery work best, but some people may find that puppy dogs or images of smiling children also do the trick. Once you have it, find a spot facing a wall where you can get into your meditation pose, and hang the picture on the wall in front of you at eye level.
Start by staring at the picture for a minute or so, taking in every detail. Now close your eyes, and mentally transport yourself to that scene. Imagine as though you are living in that image, perhaps strolling through the scene or engaged with the characters in it. Mentally envision the warmth of the sun, the scent of the palm trees, or the soft touch of a child or a puppy’s hair. If your thoughts wander, open your eyes for a minute or so to acquire the imagery again, then close your eyes and bring your mind back to that place. One of the best things about this technique is that you can use a different picture each time (though you shouldn’t swap them out too much in the beginning). As you get
better at meditation and become more skilled at controlling your thoughts, it can be like taking a mini-vacation whenever you have 20 minutes to spare.
Engage in this type of meditation as you’re strolling through a park or walking
somewhere where it’s quiet and serene. It should not be attempted in an urban setting where you need your full concentration to pay attention to traffic, trains, or other hazards.
How to meditate while you walk:
Step 1: Stand up straight, your back upright but not stiff.
Step 2: Curl the thumb of your left hand and wrap your fingers around it. Now
wrap the right hand over your left, so that its fingers cover the outside of your left hand with the right thumb resting in the top crevice. Now bring both hands in to rest against your belly button. This will create a relaxing posture and give you some balance while you walk.
Step 3: Drop your gaze slightly, which will help you maintain your focus.
As you walk …
Concentrate on the sensations of your feet swinging. Feel your heel hit the ground, the weight rotating on the ball, then the toes. Walk at a steady pace, but just slightly slower than you normally might. When your attention wanders, try to bring it back again to the motion of your movements.
If you’re somewhere in nature, you might choose to take off your shoes and go barefoot while paying attention to the sensations as your feet touch the earth. Other people find that listening to a CD of soft music while walking can also help them clear their mind.